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SoftBank is said to work with Nomura on US$19b mobile IPO

[TOKYO] SoftBank Group Corp is working with Nomura Holdings Inc as it makes early preparations for an initial public offering of its domestic telecom business that could raise more than US$19 billion, said people with knowledge of the matter.

SoftBank is considering marketing most of the offering to Japanese individuals, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. While no official mandates have been assigned, Nomura is advising the company on matters such as its strategy for distributing the shares, corporate governance and documentation needed to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the people said.  Tokyo-based SoftBank has yet to send out so-called requests for proposals from securities firms that want to obtain formal roles as managers of the deal, the people said. Getting involved early may help Japan's biggest brokerage win a lucrative global coordinator role for the IPO, which could become the country's largest debut share sale since NTT DoCoMo Inc in 1998. Nomura will likely face competition from global firms including Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Nomura's Tokyo-based spokesman Seiji Sato declined to comment on the role, as did SoftBank spokeswoman Hiroe Kotera.

Retail Strength SoftBank hasn't decided how it would split the offering between domestic and overseas investors, the people said. With its large retail franchise, Nomura would be well placed to manage a share sale that targets Japanese individuals. In addition to underwriting fees, the deal would help Nomura obtain new retail accounts and handle secondary trading after the listing.

Billionaire founder Masayoshi Son is seeking to separate SoftBank's activities into investing and telecommunications arms as it branches out into businesses ranging from ride-hailing to insurance. He said this month that the company will start preparing for the mobile IPO and aims for a listing within a year. It could still end up scrapping the plan, the company said on Feb 7.

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